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I signed the admission agreement when she was put in the nursing home as a "Designated Representative." There is no will and she had no children and no money. Am I responsible for this??

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Do you happen to still have the agreement/contract?
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SCAREY59 Mar 25, 2019
Hello Shad. Yes I do have the agreement.
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Thanks to everyone. I am sending a certified return receipt letter to them today with a copy of her death certificate which list the city in France where she was born. I have also included in the letter that I reject all personal responsibility for her debt at the time of her death. I will keep you all updated.
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Scary, please do not just block the number and hope it goes away.

You should follow igloos advice, very solid and wise.

It is a pain but better than having to deal with a fraudulent bill on your credit report because you are buying something and won't qualify because of it.

Example of fraud, I had surgery and had no insurance, so at the surgery center I hand the anesthesiologist a check for payment in full. No receipt provided, I was literally prepped and headed for the OR. No problems, until, 3 years later this guy sells his practice and my bill with it as an outstanding account receivable. What?!? Fortunately, fortunately, I am a bookkeeper and I have all my documents as required by the IRS, so after dealing with the nasty, you are a criminal and should be ashamed of yourself harrassment, I sent them a certified copy of the payment. Needless to say they took the collection off my credit report, I did AR, so I gave them a dose of there own medicine, basically I was going to sue them for multiple things if they didn't make this right. My point being, they thought I was a deadbeat and it was the doctor that sold his practice that was the actual criminal, falsified AR and AP is a criminal offense in the sale of a business.

This was 30 years ago and things have only become more sketchy. I would check and see if there has been a resent sale of the facility and if yes, find out how to turn the sellers in for falsification of accounts receivable.

But again, please don't just ignore this.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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SCAREY,

It is the collector job to call you and scare you. This is their tactics!! They will lie--guilt you or whatever they have to to get you to pay on this bill. Unfortunately, there are laws of what they can and cannot do; however, they ignore the laws. But you should learn what those laws are like CW has stated.

You probably won't be able to ignore them and hope they will go away,

Although, to you this is very personal but to them it is just another day at work. Try to keep your emotions out of it...easier said than done...but that is where we make mistakes (letting our emotions run wild).

Just keep telling them you are not responsible for this bill and take the advice that you were given here.
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I have a suggestion & it is a snarky one..... ok so Tante Marie Louise was born in France, c’est correct?

I’d try to find her old, old address in France and send a certified mailing letter to any debt collectors that the lineal heirs of Tante live in France and that they need to contact her family in France regarding the status of any estate; that you are not not responsible for her debts; that you are not named as Executor so have no ability to be issued Letters Testamentary to act in that capacity. And as such you consider any issues as to her estate to not be within your purview. And this certified mailing to them is your Notice that as such no more communication either written, by fax, phone, text or email is to come to you.

For more fun, you do one for your FIL As well. Keep the letters as files in a Tante Marie Louise folder in your computer.... you may want to scan all the letters received on this and add into the folder so your all organized.

Letter you keep to to 1 page and it goes out via certified mail with the green return receipt post card from the USPO. Duo costs like $8.00. The green is mucho importante (tres important for you, lol!) as it requires a signature with a date on it. If they are just total pests and don’t go away, that signed green card, well it can help establishes the date that SOL (Statute of Limitation) starts.

Also as a subthought, you do want to look at what SOL is for your state. If last payment ever done by Tante Marie Louise was like Jan, 2016 and your state has a 3 yr SOL, were now March, 2019. It’s past SOL. They are toast on collecting from her (if she was alive) unless they can now get someone new, like you, to accept the debt as yours so the debt can be viewed as new and fresh. This may be what is happening.

JoAnne or others with debt collectors experience, any thoughts on this?
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Sendhelp Mar 22, 2019
Yes, Igloo.
Your last paragraph describes what it means when someone gives advice that says:
"Do not confirm the debt".

Thank you for helping "Scarey".
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Your aunt was admitted to the NH in...?

She passed away in 2016.

You heard nothing at all about the outstanding account until January this year? Nothing? Are you sure that no bills or reminders went to your FIL's address?

So in January 2019 you got a letter from the NH claiming repayment from you as her designated representative. Did you reply to this letter?

Then just now, this month, you have had a letter from a collections agency and you are now being harassed by telephone calls from them.

Is this the course of events so far?

You want:

1. to establish that you are not liable for your aunt's debt; it sounds like you shouldn't be but we're not professionals and we haven't read the contract.

2. to get them to bog off and leave you alone.

You also don't want this impacting on your own credit history.

So I agree - do NOT ignore it. I should follow CW's suggestions.
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Don't just block the number, you need to actual do something about this because it's won't just go away. There are laws to deter collections agencies from harassment, look them up for your state. And since this is a fairly large bill it will be well worth your while to take the papers you signed to a lawyer to have them looked over to see whether or not you have any obligation.
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I would like to thank everyone for all of your knowledge and support in this matter. It gets very overwhelming when this collection agency constantly calls and talks to me like I am doing something wrong. From all of the responses it is safe to say I am going to block their number.
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True. Firstly contact them in writing. Keep copies of everything. Dispute this claim. ask for written proof of the debt. Then take it from there. Sounds like NH has sold your debt on to a collection agency.
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JoAnn29 Mar 22, 2019
It has been said on this forum not to personnally contact them. I really think because she signed Aunt in, its just that they have a name. They may think she is a child in charge of an estate. I was in collections for private companies. I had to do the same thing. Call any name or number associated with my customer. FTC is the agency that governs collection agencies.
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If this was me I would do the following:

1) Look for the contract and come through it to see if there was a clause that I missed.

2) Do a quick but deep Google search and the company that sent me the bill.

3) Do another search to find out how much time does a company or a collection agency has to collect on a past debt.

4) Make a quick call to a Lawyer who handles bankruptcy or/and debt collections and ask him/her "how long does a collection agency have to collect on a debt?" Most lawyers will give you 5 to 10 minutes on the phone for free, so make sure you use your time wisely.

5) Depending on what I find out I would either let it go or write a letter stating..."I talk to my lawyer (even if you don't have one) and he/she stated that I am Not Responsible for this bill." This is where you can scare them.

If you should write a letter "DO NOT GIVE THEM ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION, NOT EVEN YOUR ADDRESS!"

Now, take a deep breath...they are most likely bluffing...they want you to be scared and make a mistake, but your not going to because you have gotten some good advice here from us at AC.
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The first thing anyone should do when contacted by a collection agency is to ask for proof of debt. They have to be able to prove there is a debt or there is no debt. This stops many collections dead in their tracks. Since many times, the collections agencies don't get the supporting documentation to prove there is a debt when they buy the debt.

Now whether you want to do that at this point is up to you. I'm not sure I would based on the information presented so far.
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JoAnn29 Mar 21, 2019
I did do this with a CA and they had no invoices to prove debt ans the amounts didn't jive with records I had. Had to call the doctors office, whole thing was their fault. They billed me wrong and took what payment I made wasn't applied correctly so totals CA gave me were not right.
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If you signed nothing saying you are responsible for her care, then you are not. Designated Representative does not sound like you excepted responsibility to pay anything. I think they have a name and went with it. Did the letter come certified?

This is a collection agency not the NH. The NH has sold their receivables. They try anything they can to get their money. Was your Aunt on Medicaid? Was the home her payee for SS? If yes, then why is there a balance. You need to contact the Nursing home and find out why there is a balance. If a person dies before end of month, not sure if family is responsible for balance of month or that NH can even bill since no care has been given. Not sure how Medicaid works in that respect. My Mom died on the 23rd and I was never contacted there was a balance owed to NH. I do owe Medicaid but thats not till house sells.

I just read that 30 states make it mandatory for "children" to pay medical and NH bills. Nothing about other relatives. Maybe the CA thinks your Aunts child. I am surprised you heard nothing from the NH in two years.

Get all the information you can. Office of Aging may have a number for legal aide. It may just take a letter to the CA stating you are not responsible and Aunt had no estate.

I wouldn't worry about the French end of it. There was no estate.

You don't need to probate if there was no estate. If Aunt had some money and you needed to pay bills then thru probate you can sign an affidavit saying that the estate is under 20k. You would have been given a short certificate to handle being able to get to her bank account to pay bills. If she was on Medicaid, she was not allowed more than maybe 2k in the bank.

Please, don't let these people get to you. Don't even contact them till you know what is going on. The FTC has rules for CA and believe me they don't follow them. Since they sent a letter to FILs address, tell him next time one is sent, put "No one by this name at this address". FIL to except no certified letters for same reason. Will look like you excepted them. Really, I think your just a name they were given.
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Sorry - I lost track of when your aunt passed away - so it was after she died that you accessed the safety deposit box? Still sounds a lot for the job.

More than two years is quite a long time for a debt to lie dormant. Had you had earlier correspondence with the NH about this outstanding account? And is this latest letter from them or from a collections agency?
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SCAREY59 Mar 21, 2019
The letter I received from a collection agency arrived March 5th. It wasn't even delivered to the home I live in it went to my Father in laws house.
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Sounds to me like they are trying to pull a fast one by slurring their words - making you think that 'designated representative' must somehow be the semantic equivalent of 'responsible party.'

Well, it isn't. But you might spend a useful hour or two combing through the contract to see if it contains any definitions of terms that could conceivably mean that you accidentally accepted this peculiar construction of 'designated representative' when you signed her in.

The 'third party issuers' paragraph isn't going to be the important one - that's just about filling in gaps from insurers' or plan providers' funding. What you want to focus on is all sections to do with acceptance of responsibilities by 'representatives' or 'delegates.'

it is *just* possible that you will stumble in horror over a clause that states 'the designated representative agrees blah blah blah.'

Let's assume there isn't one. You do need to write back promptly rejecting all personal responsibility for your aunt's debts at her death.

You then sort out what happens with her assets, especially the bank account. Go to an attorney who does NOT charge you $800 (!) to open a safety deposit box to which you did not have title (?!) and is not too bone idle to look up how much the required notices cost (probably not that much, plus it comes out of that bank account).

Or, look up intestacy rules for your state and see what happens if you don't do anything about your aunt's estate. It might be less trouble to leave it to the default process. Was she a US citizen?
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rovana Mar 21, 2019
This is a really good answer - especially about just leaving it to the state. Doesn't sound to me like OP is actually required to "fix" Aunt's mess.
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Can you just do a newspaper ad in France that states you are looking for relatives of aunt and publish that for 4 weeks to show good faith efforts? I wouldn't say heirs, can bring scam artists out of the wood work.

Attorneys will never tell you how to do it yourself, conflict of their best interests.

Scare tactics work, doesn't mean that they can do it. I would send them a certified letter stating that you are not responsible, you never signed taking responsibility and you will not be paying.

There is a law that says if you don't respond in writing within 30 days you are agreeing with the information provided by the other party. Respond with a resounding- no!

Do some research, I bet you can do a publication search that would be legal. You can divorce someone that way when you don't know where they are.
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rovana Mar 21, 2019
I don't see that OP needs to worry about Aunt's estate/possible heirs. No will, so OP is not executor? Right? I'd just leave the mess to whoever wants it.   But I would reply to collection agency that it is not your debt.
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The Attorney did mention probate since there was no will. He explained to me that the problem is she grew up in France and I would have to have an Attorney in France find out if she had any heirs still alive. I know she doesn't but just the expense I would have to incur was not worth me moving forward. The issue for me now is that this nursing home sent me a letter stating that if I don't pay them the money they will get a judgment against me.
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rovana Mar 21, 2019
Nursing home or collection agency (they will try any lie)? And I don't understand why you need worry about settling Aunt's estate? You actually do not have any legal responsibilities to do that since you are not executor.
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Other posters will have ideas, and of course, be sure to read the paperwork you signed very carefully. Sounds like you were not POA - so what exactly, legally, does designated representative mean?  How were you thinking that this bill would be paid?
Perhaps, have the state step in as emergency guardian? I hope this can get resolved, but it doesn't sound like you have the authority.
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SCAREY59 Mar 21, 2019
Thanks Rovana. Can you suggest other posters that may be helpful? Thanks.
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Designated representative does not mean responsible party.

Did you do probate to access her assets? I would think that would help you get everything to a done.

Hopefully someone that understands how probate works will chime in.

You paid an atty 800.00 and he didn't advice you to open probate? I would file a complaint with the BAR association, that's just ridiculous that he charged so much and in reality did nothing.
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rovana Mar 21, 2019
But what do the words "designated representative" actually mean legally in the jurisdiction in question? Poster was not POA.
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The paperwork states "Third party issuers may require a deductible and/or co-insurance payment to the facility. The resident and responsible party agrees to meet these obligations and understands that the payment obligations under this Agreement include such payment." The problem is my Aunt did not have a will nor did she have any children and her husband is deceased. I know she has a little money in the bank but I cant touch anything since I am not listed on the account. I have consulted with an attorney back in 2016 since I knew she had a safety deposit box to see if there was a will in it. I paid him out of pocket $800.00 to open the box. There are coins and paperwork in the box which will stay there. My Aunt was born in France and my attorney said that he would have to contact an attorney in France to put an ad in the paper to see if she has any heirs in her hometown. I just left it alone since I cannot bear the expense.
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Other caregivers who know the answer to your question will be able to help.
In the meantime, do not panic.
Searching this site may bring up past answers on this topic. However, consult your lawyer for legal advice.

What is the specific wording on the letter that points to your own personal responsibility for the debt? Versus an indication that you are responsible as her representative to see that it is paid from her funds, not your own.

Are there any tax refunds pending, health insurance payments pending, life insurance proceeds? Did she have an allowance account (personal items)
managed by the nursing home that may have accumulated, and did they report the balance to you?
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